Foodie or travel addict, you’re going to need to keep this checklist handy at all times. Already being dubbed the Oscars of the food world before the first ceremony has even taken place; The World Restaurant Awards is scheduled for February 2019. This is going to be the first time a culinary awards ceremony is televised globally—a groundbreaking feat for the restaurant industry where its achievements now receive parallel levels of celebration like those within industries of film, music, art and fashion.
We met with some of the 100-strong panel of the world’s leading chefs, restaurateurs and food personalities to help put together our own definitive list of 2018 must-eats when trotting the globe:
Asador Etxebarri, Spain
In the foothills of the glorious Mt. Anboto, Atxondo Valley, is Asador Etxebarri. It is World Restaurant Awards panellist Karen Leibowitz’s absolute favourite eatery in Europe. The author and restaurateur from San Francisco says, “The first time I went it was a hidden secret, but now it’s, of course, world famous. Everything is cooked on a grill which is specialised with lots of heat control. The result of their cooking technique means everything is cooked to perfection. Try the ‘gold butter’—I saw a man lick his plate in the restaurant after having it. It’s that amazing”.
As the setting for 2003 classic Lost In Translation, The Park Hyatt is not only an icon but arguably the finest hotel in Tokyo. Kozue is its 40th-floor contemporary Japanese restaurant, with dishes crafted by the city’s top artisans. Chef Kenichiro Ooe uses only the finest and freshest ingredients available during the four seasons and preserves the integrity of each with simplicity and minimal handling. Dishes are hearty and presented on striking earthenware, porcelain, and lacquerware made by noted Japanese craftsmen. For dinner go a la carte or better yet, choose from tasting menus such as the ‘Yuu’ which includes softly steamed abalone, grilled wagyu beef and a Hassan comprising of nine kinds of sensational delicacies. Kozue is perched on the top floors of a modern skyscraper meaning views stretching as far as Mount Fuji. You can continue to take in these sights afterwards at the bars, which have an extensive list of premium sake and beautiful Japanese wines.
Anan Saigon, Vietnam
Chef Colin Tu’s favourite spot in Ho Chi Minh City is Anan Saigon, “Its modern Vietnamese food which is something we don’t find often within Vietnam. It’s progressive using modern techniques and traditional flavours. Lemongrass pork chops, banh xeo tacos and dalat-style pizza are all incredible offerings on the menu and dishes that I will never forget.” Says the founder of pho giants Salvation In Noodles.
Burnt Ends, Singapore
This modern Australian barbecue restaurant is a favourite with panellist and Barbadian Chef Paul Carmichael whenever he lands in Singapore. The open-concept Chinatown kitchen has custom-made grills and an oven fired by coal, apple or almond wood. “I just think it’s delicious and it’s my go-to whenever I am in Singapore”, he adds.
Berners Tavern, United Kingdom
Berners Tavern is London’s crown jewel, serving contemporary British food using the ‘best of British’ ingredients. Sample dishes include Lake District Farmers rump of lamb with miso aubergine and courgettes, and roasted Dover sole on the bone. If you have a sweet tooth then you’re in for a sugary treat, there’s a raspberry and yoghurt flaming Alaska, which is literally on fire. Interiors are exquisite – taupe coloured walls are covered in framed portraits, landscapes and still-life, and giant bronze chandeliers hang from the ceiling. The restaurant sits within The London Edition hotel and is a favourite among local foodies and international A-Listers.
When a restaurant is tipped by Chef May Chow, a panellist who just happens to be Asia’s Best Female Chef 2017, you know it’s going to be good. Gaa is influenced by global techniques which are applied to local Thai ingredients to create masterpieces in the kitchen. May says, “This is my favourite new restaurant in Bangkok, and Chef Garima Arora is definitely one to watch.” Everything at Gaa is homemade, freshly prepared on the day and in our opinion, and bursting with flavour.
The Latin American restaurant recently opened a branch in Monte Carlo, their best addition yet. Coya incorporates a vibrant bar with a contemporary Peruvian restaurant. Dishes are naturally light and healthy, with standouts including Temera—veal, manchego, quail egg and ají panca, and Dorada a la Parilla—a chargrilled whole gilthead sea bream with peas, asparagus and broad beans.
Masque in Mumbai is the go-to fine dining destination in India, and each dish is a work of art. Head Chef Prateek Sadhu and owner Aditi Dugar have travelled throughout the stretch of India to bring to focus the lost ingredients of the Himalayan belt into modern cuisine. The seasonal menu changes each month which draw the locals back in again and again. In recent months the oyster, mangos and chilli were described as the best oysters diners have ever experienced—there must be something in those Goa and Kerala waters. And the Pondicherry chocolate, targola and coconut dessert last came with actual edible ants.